I know that it's still only November, but I almost passed out when I heard that there were only four Fridays left until Christmas day swings round, and to me, that means I've only got a small amount of time to get in gear. And believe me, right now, I'm not in gear at all.
Feeling the pressure valve ramp-up as my thoughts jumbled in a haze: 'What presents will I buy?', 'What's going to happen for Christmas lunch?', 'How will I get to see everyone?' I took a moment to stop myself thinking along those stressed-out lines, and it's amazing what a time out can do!
I remembered all the great aspects of last Christmas that I would like to repeat, and the not-so-great parts that I will try to avoid, and I've put together a small set of pointers that may help to make the Christmas season as near to idyllic and stress free as possible:
1. I will not start buying stuff until I look at the stash left over from last year.
It's amazing just how much we squirrel away after Christmas, everything from cards, presents and Christmas puddings. So, I am going to save myself some stress, time and money by checking out what I have in my loft before I embark on any Christmas shopping.
2. I will not attempt to see every single person I care about within the space of three days.
Last year, I don't know how I managed it but I know I was wiped-out and, probably, pretty rubbish company. This year, apart from immediate family and my grandparents, who I will see on Christmas day (I enjoy getting round those guys in one day) I will space out my other close family and friends along the whole of the season, and, most importantly, I am going to pencil in some chill-out days just for me.
3. I will, at all times, remember how lucky I am to have a family and a home, and to give something to those who aren't so fortunate.
Whether it is time or money that can be spared, I will continue to give something back to those in need this year. Whether it's for the homeless, orphaned children or the sick and isolated, there are so many charities out there in need of help this Christmas. Where possible, I intend to buy gifts from a charity - this is such a great way to donate to those in need.
4. I will make, with my bare hands, as many gifts as possible.
Time allowing, I will do as I did last year and get creative. There aren't many times of year when there is an excuse to do this so indulgently, and I am going to relish making some sweet treats for those that I love. Last year, my close family and I made agreements not to buy each other presents, and instead spent the money on a day out, making memories that last forever. An evening at the theatre is always a wonderful trip, and even a long walk in the park on a crisp day is a lovely (and free) way to spend time together.
5. I am not going to give myself a hard time, and I will make sure that I get rest.
This year I am solely focussed on taking the time to recharge - it's been a wild ride this year and I'm shattered. I need to kick back, reflect on the last year's events and get ready for 2013.
And with that in mind, and my mantras to hand, it's going to be wonderful - what was I worried about?
Follow Louisa Mallejacq Flynn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/louisamflynn